Tanacetum parthenium, known as Green Feverfew is actually a species of chrysanthemum that has been grown in herb and medicinal gardens for centuries. The herb was used medicinally in the past to treat a variety of conditions such as headaches, arthritis, and as the name implies, fever.
Pretty daisy-like flowers on a mid-sized bush make Feverfew a garden favourite. The white petals with yellow centres, accent the green serrated leaves of this plant.
Feverfew is a hardy evergreen perennial that can with stand temperatures down to -15°C (-5°C). Looking like a small bush and growing to about 50cm (20in) high, the plant blooms profusely between July and October. Some gardeners claim the leaves are citrus scented, while others describe the scent as bitter.
Whether your interest lies in medicinal herbs or simply its decorative qualities, growing Feverfew can be a welcome addition to any garden or allotment. Feverfew is a good companion plant enhancing the growth of plants around it. Feverfew contains pyrethrin, a natural insect repellent. A weak infusion controls whitefly and spider mites. Dried and crushed flowers repel aphids and leafhoppers.
Feverfew is great for repelling mosquitoes and other flying biting insects. It is ideal for planting around outdoor seating areas, pathways and close to doorways and windows, for maximum benefit, plant in conjunction with lavender.
If you choose to grow your feverfew plant somewhere other than an herb garden, the only requirement is that the spot be sunny, it cannot grow nor bloom in the shade. The plants aren’t fussy about soil and grow best in dry to moist loamy soil.
Feverfew is suited to container growing, they flourish in outdoor containers, but indoors, they tend to get leggy.
Sowing: Sow February to July
Sow Feverfew seeds indoors or under glass from February to July.
Seeds can also be sown outdoors into prepared seed beds directly where they are to grow, after all danger of frost has passed and thinned to 30cm (12in) apart.
Sow seed in pots or trays on the surface of barely moist seed compost and cover with a sprinkling of finely sieved compost or vermiculite. Keep at a temperature of around 15 to 20°C (64 to 68°F). The seed tray can be placed in a propagator or covered with clear plastic or a clear polythene bag until germination which takes 10 to 30 days.
When seedlings are large enough to handle, transplant into 7.5cm (3in) pots and grow on in cooler conditions. When all risk of frost has passed, gradually acclimatise the plants to outdoor conditions over 7 to 10 days before planting outdoors. Plant at a distance of 30cm (12in) apart on any well-drained soil in full sun.
Feverfew is a hardy perennial plant, so cut it back to the ground after frost and watch for it to regrow in the spring. It re-seeds fairly easily, shear off spent flowers after bloom in order to control any unwanted self-seeding. Frequent cutting of blossoms helps the plants stay in bloom longer.
Depending on climate, feverfew is a biennial or short-lived perennial. When seeds are started early, it will bloom its first year. Most individual plants die in their second or third summer, after blooming heavily and are replaced by self sown seedlings. Volunteer seedlings found in the garden can be transplanted and moved. They are easily recognized by their lacy leaves.
The ancient Greek physicians used herbal remedies made from feverfew in the treatment of 'melancholy,' the term may have included disorders such as persistent headaches as well as long term depression. Seventeenth century doctors in England used the remedy for the treatment of disorders and problems such as vertigo, disorders such as depression, and persistent headaches, they may have also prescribed its use for the treatment of fevers, to bring the temperature down, although it is no longer considered useful for that purpose.
The use of the herb in the medical community faded after the seventeenth century, and most herbalists never used the herbal remedy during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. As feverfew had a reputation for repelling insects, it was, however, often planted in well laid out gardens, this cultivation may also have been for the aesthetic value endowed by its many small daisy like flowers.
The regular use of the herb as an herbal remedy has revived only in recent decades. Today’s research understands that a substance called parthenolide helps relieve to spasms in smooth muscle tissue. Its use in herbal medicine is primarily as a preventive measure against the symptoms and pain of migraine headaches in affected patients.
While all the parts of the herb are used in herbal medicine, the preferred parts are dried leaves and stems, which are often picked when the plant is still in full bloom - from July to October.
Feverfew should only be used following professional advice and should not be used during pregnancy.
Feverfew and its relative the Pyrethrum daisy contains pyrethrin, a natural insect repellent. A weak infusion controls whitefly and spider mites. Dried and crushed flowers repel aphids and leafhoppers.
Do not place near plants that need pollination, as bees rarely come near feverfew.
This herb repels insects of all nature, it has moth-repellent qualities so can be used in drawers and linen cupboards.
Native to central and south-eastern Europe, Feverfew is now widespread throughout Europe, North America, and Australia. It has a flower that closely resembles the daisy and is a member of the same family, Asteraceae.
It belongs to all four of the main herb categories: aromatic, ornamental, culinary, and medicinal
Don’t be confused by its Latin designation, it is known by both Tanacetum parthenium or Chrysanthemum parthenium. It also has the synonuyms of Aphanostephus pinulensis, Matricaria parthenium and Parthenium matricaria.
Its common name Feverfew derives from a corruption of Febrifuge, meaning 'fever reducer' from its tonic and fever-dispelling properties, although it is no longer considered useful for that purpose.
Other common names include Featherfoil, Featherfew, Flirtwort and Bachelor's Buttons.
- Additional Information
Packet Size 100mg Average Seed Count 900 Seeds Family Asteraceae Genus Tanacetum Species parthenium Synonym Chrysanthemum parthenium Hardiness Hardy Perennial Flowers White petals with yellow centres Natural Flower Time July to August Foliage Green serrated leaves Height 45 to 60cm (18 to 24in) Spread 30cm (12in) Position Full sun for best flowering. Soil Most soils